Friday, December 31, 2010

Inside the heart of a North Korean defector

Despite the increase in the number of North Korean defectors in South Korea, there are few films or television programs that show what their lives are like once they arrive. 

So when “The Journals of Musan” - which tells the story of a North Korean defector’s escape and resettlement in South Korea - was screened at film festivals earlier this year, it drew attention. The film focuses on how defectors deal with living in a capitalist society and their struggle to fit in.

The film, which is film director’s, Park Jung-bumm, first full-length feature has been making the rounds on the festival circuit and has already won several awards.

The film is based on Park’s year-long relationship with a close friend named Jeon Seung-chul. Jang defected from the North with his mother and older brother but died from stomach cancer in 2008 at age of 30, just six years after his escape.

In meeting people from the North, Park said he began to see how their lives had changed as a result of their escape. “They come here to be happy but when they arrive they become the poorest people in the society. I wanted to shed light on their lives, which are almost like those of orphans.”

All of the stories in the film are based on Park’s experiences with the defectors he’s met, including one who betrays another for money and another who confesses to having killed a friend out of extreme hunger.

[JoongAng Ilbo]

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